Why do they always say "I got you" not "I've got you" and what is the difference between them?

  • 1
    Who always says that? "I've got you" seems like a perfectly normal sentence to me.
    – The Photon
    Aug 10, 2017 at 1:42
  • 1
    This seems to be a possible duplicate of this question, but it may depend on some factors: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/4856/got-vs-have-got Can you tell us the contexts where they are used? In my answer, I took it to mean what you might say when playing a game of tag when you tag someone. Aug 10, 2017 at 2:22
  • 1
    There is also a related idiomatic expression - When you understand what someone tells you, you can reply "I got you."
    – user3169
    Aug 10, 2017 at 5:42

1 Answer 1


'I've got you' seems to be an idiomatic expression (since 'I've' seems to imply you should correctly say 'gotten' instead of 'got', and the meaning of 'I've got you' is different than 'I've gotten you'; grammatically, it's not supposed to have a different meaning, and 'I've got you' is supposed to be incorrect—but, I believe it's an idiomatic phrase).

  • 'I've got you' tends to mean that you have the person now (e.g. it means, I have you). They won't say it in a later conversation, but only right when they get you. Some people might fudge the meaning a little and say it the moment after they get you (instead of while they have you), but this isn't really what they should technically do, even with the idiomatic meaning (although it's probably forgivable). If you try to use the grammar here with other verbs, it doesn't make any sense (this is half the reason why I say it seems like an idiomatic expression): e.g. 'I've ate fish' (some people might still say this in informal contexts, actually, but it's just incorrect English—and not an idiomatic expression). I say 'I've got you' is an idiomatic expression because it actually means something different than the grammatically correct phrase.
  • 'I got you' Is what you say after you get the person—not while you have the person. It's like 'I got the fish'; that just means I obtained the fish some time in the past. E.g. 'I tagged you some time in the past.' Some people will say 'I got you' in the same contexts as 'I've got you', but they probably shouldn't, from a literal standpoint. But, as even a fraction of a second ago is in the past, it's okay for them to say 'I got you' the moment after they get you.
  • 'I've gotten you' tends to imply that you got the person in the past, but the context is different than 'I got you', and frankly, I think it would be rarely said in any context similar to the other examples. If someone says, 'I've eaten all the fish', they might say it in response to someone saying, "Where is all the fish?" since the question is asking about something present. 'I have eaten all the fish' implies a present state (a present state of having eaten all the fish in the past), while 'I got you' implies a past state and nothing to do with the present at all.

My sources are just my observations from playing tag, capture the flag, and such with a lot of different people over the years, as a native English (American English) speaker in steppe-like areas of the mountainous northwestern USA.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .